Replacing a broken cell phone
April 3, 2012 4:43 PM   Subscribe

My wife dropped her AT&T Blackberry Torch 9800 in water last night, and even though the phone wasn't damp inside, it doesn't power up. We just came from the local AT&T store, and we can't upgrade until July. The only options they gave us were to buy a new Blackberry Torch for $499 or wait four months and buy it for $99. Do we have any other options? The phone's data has been backed up to our PC, so we'd really like to replace it with a Torch (she likes the keyboard) or at least a compatible phone so the data can be restored.
posted by davcoo to Technology (16 answers total)
Before you do anything, put it in rice for a day or two and see if it will work after that.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:48 PM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

I realize that replacing the phone would be ideal, but in the meantime, take the battery out and put it in a bag of dry rice for at least 48 hours. That may absorb enough moisture to dry it out so that it'll start working again.
posted by decathecting at 4:48 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's available from Amazon for $250 when you buy "phone only" (so not as part of a contract or anything, just in the "replacement phone" section).
posted by brainmouse at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2012

(Argh, that changed the landing page -- click the "Buy at" button on the right)
posted by brainmouse at 4:59 PM on April 3, 2012

check craigslist. lots of used phones out there.

also, you can rig up more powerful drier than rice using calcium chloride (check the hardware store.) you don't want to immerse it in the salt, just have it in the same container.
posted by joshu at 5:02 PM on April 3, 2012

My wife is in the process of trying rice, or if that fails, joshu's suggestion.

Once we've bought a replacement phone from Amazon or whoever, is it just a matter of switching the SIM card and the 4GB memory card to the new phone? I don't have to contact AT&T about it to get it to work?
posted by davcoo at 5:07 PM on April 3, 2012

Put it in a bag of rice for 48 hours, turning occasionally to maximise drippage. Then seek a replacement if it still doesn't work.
posted by goo at 5:10 PM on April 3, 2012

I don't know about that particular model, but I've always bought my replacement phones off of craigslist.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:19 PM on April 3, 2012

I've always purchased my replacement phones on Kijiji. I'd recommend checking out Kijiji since you can get the phone faster than ordering it online.

Also, you need a new SIM card and 4GB memory card; however, in order to use the phone you need to contact AT&T so that they can activate this 'new' phone (or something like that).

There will most likely be a fee since they have to activate the phone for you. But, when Telus did this for me it was around $50 (give or take, of course).
posted by livinglearning at 5:27 PM on April 3, 2012

You won't need to contact AT&T. As long as you get a unlocked or locked to AT&T phone. AT&T is a GSM carrier. Make sure of this when you buy it, a T-Mobile phone won't be able to use 3G on AT&T bands, and a CDMA phone from Verizon or Sprint will not work at all.

Just swap the SIM and memory card, and you'll be fine. There is a slim chance either will not work due to moisture.
posted by narcoleptic at 5:56 PM on April 3, 2012

Rice is good but mostly, if it's going to come back from the dead, it needs time. Keep it turned off, inthe rice, for as long as you can stand, at least 48 hours, maybe more. When you absolutely can't wait any longer plug it in and hope for the best. I have rescued two phones this way, one from a public toilet bowl and one that went thru a washing machine cycle (although they were not your wife's make/model).
posted by boofidies at 5:57 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely search around and see if you can get another phone - Craigslist, eBay, etc, and also ask around. You should be able to swap the SIM cards. You can also call AT&T and say you need to do an ESN (electronic serial number) swap - basically you say "use this handset for this line instead of the old one."
posted by radioamy at 6:34 PM on April 3, 2012

If the water was clean, and the battery was taken out fairly promptly, drying the phone out will probably make it come good. Rice is OK, but silica gel (available cheaply in bulk as "crystal" cat litter) has more suckitupitude. You can also regenerate silica gel by baking it in a shallow tray in a very low oven (100°C or so) for a few hours, then transferring it to a sealed container to cool.
posted by flabdablet at 7:03 PM on April 3, 2012

Have you tried begging for mercy, and talking about how you'd hate to have to switch to a competitor?
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:12 PM on April 3, 2012

Seconding the silica cat litter. dropped my phone in water and it took 3-4 days to fully dry out. It would boot up fine after a couple of days but needed more time for the moisture behind the screen to dry out. It seems fine now.
posted by oneear at 9:35 PM on April 3, 2012

Use silica gel. You can buy a pound box in Christmas Tree Shop for a $. Open that box in a big plastic shopping bag, open the phone and put it in the same bag. Seal the bag by knotting and leave it for a day. The phone will work.
posted by zaxour at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2012

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